Crow Wing County is leading its five county neighbors in a disturbing category few counties would hope to excel in -- intimate partner violence.
The Minnesota Department of Health recently released a report from its Injury and Violence Prevention Unit. Crow Wing County not only led the five county area in the rates of intimate partner violence by a substantial margin, it also ranked among the top three counties in the state behind metro counties of Ramsey and Hennepin.
Crow Wing County's rate of 23.14 people per 100,000 documents the annual hospitalization rate of people, predominantly women, treated for injuries between 1999 and 2001. Hennepin County had a rate of 24.53 people per 100,000 and Ramsey County had a rate of 26.34 per 100,000. The next closest county was Kanabec with a rate of 20.89.
However, the health department noted area reporting rates could account for some low county numbers. Intimate partner violence is perpetrated by a current or former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend or date. Females were most often the victim, accounting for 86 percent in 1999 and 94 percent in 2000. Males were the predominant offenders.
Resources for victims
Women's Center of Mid-Minnesota, Brainerd -- 828-1216.
National Domestic Violence Hotline -- (800) 799-7233.
Hotline that connects with local centers -- (866) 223-1111.
"If they are not reporting it they are underreporting it, so you don't know the true picture," said Louise Seliski, executive director of the Women's Center of Mid-Minnesota, Brainerd.
Seliski said studies show every 13 seconds a woman is beaten and in Minnesota more than 132,000 assaults are reported annually.
"It's still the kind of thing that people don't want to talk about and don't want to acknowledge what is going on," she said.
Seliski said she also is concerned about funding for shelters at the next legislative session. She said one could argue that money could be saved by not funding shelters or programs, but costs of prosecuting crimes far exceed those dollars.
Seliski said the reports are conservative in nature and wonders about victims who may be treated by their private doctors or at urgent care sites who were not counted in the study of hospitalization. And she noted many women who are victims do not seek medical attention.
"What you are seeing here is an absolutely minute tip of the iceberg, this looks bad enough but it's actually a lot worse," Seliski said. "The problem is there are still a lot of women who are not getting help."
While the total state number of Minnesotans injured and treated by a hospital has gone down -- 897 cases in 2000 to 806 in 2001 -- the number of people killed by an intimate partner has risen. In 1999, 22 people were killed by an intimate partner. By 2000, that number increased to 31.
A firearm was used most often. Other victims were strangled, stabbed, beaten or burned. A significant percentage of the cases -- 27 percent in 1999 and 29 percent in 2000 -- involved a murder/suicide.
Other report findings:
* Sixteen of every 100,000 Minnesotans were treated in a hospital in 2001 for injuries caused by an intimate partner. Most patients received emergency room treatment. Nearly half had a head or face injury. A small percentage, 2 percent of those who received hospital care, were admitted to the hospital.
* In 2000, the average cost was $739 for a patient receiving medical treatment after intimate partner violence. The primary payer, at 45 percent, was Medicaid. And 39 percent came from commercial health insurance with 13 percent self-pay and 3 percent from Medicare.
* When median household income increased, the rate of hospital treatment because of intimate partner violence decreased. The highest rate was with a household income below $30,000.
* Ages 20 to 29 show the highest rate of hospital treatment because of intimate partner violence.
* The report data included individuals age 12 or older at the time of injury. The report looked at Minnesota residents who were intentionally injured by an intimate partner. Information for the report came from the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership and U.S. Census.
* The full report is available online at www.health.state.mn.us.
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